How Do You Fight Emotional Spending?

My kiddo has been quite  clingy the last few days, I managed to snap a picture of her needing to hold my hand :)

I’d rather just do this.

There was a time in my life where I would spend money on crap I thought I needed but really I was looking to fill some ill feeling. I was never one to shop when I was super happy, only when I was bummed out about something. Usually an emotional thing that I didn’t want to deal with. Retail therapy allowed me to procrastinate with facing the issue and often, temporarily, eased the discomfort. I was always in my right mind to know even at the time exactly what I was doing but did it anyway, often leaving me feeling worse for wasting money.

I honestly don’t know what or when things changed for me but this isn’t something I do anymore. It’s not even anything I want to do. Sure there are things I want but I no longer shop emotionally. I’m going to assume the tiny human I care for has a huge part in this but I can’t say for sure I changed as soon as I became pregnant but I’m sure my lack of free time has a lot to do with it!

I don’t really get trigger happy to buy crap I don’t need, instead I’d rather watch my debt go down. Seeing that number decrease is enough for me to say ”I don’t really want that” and don’t give it a second thought but not everyone is like that. I feel like I’m a minority in my life. Most of my peers would much rather have that new toy than not. I don’t think it’s a keeping up with the Joneses thing, I really think they just want to buy stuff for them rather than to say ”look what I have and you don’t”.

Fighting the Urge

It can be tough to resist your desires to waste money. If you’re looking to spend money on something you need to figure out if this is an emotional purchase. If you’re not in the most sound state of mind, walk away from the purchase. If you still think you really want, or need said item after the emotions have chilled out a bit, return to it but while you’re in any sort of emotional distress, don’t buy anything or you may come to regret it.

Keeping a list of needs with you may help distinguish between a true want and need. Since we’re more apt to spend money when we’re not thinking clearly, having a go-to list may help. This may sound crazy to some but something both my husband and I do. While this list includes wants as well as needs it acts as a good reference, I really need a new pair of scrub pants for work since putting a hole through them, I don’t need a three tier cookie rack for baking. Sometimes I just need to look at the list to remind myself.

Another trick is to just leave your wallet at home if you don’t think you can be trusted. I know a certain sister of mine who would do a lot better if she just didn’t have the immediate access to cash all the time. After a crappy day at work I can guarantee you can find her at some local store looking for something to buy. Even though it may not be a lot of money these purchases add up over time, as do the house full of trinkets you don’t need.

Money is a very powerful in the sense that it can make us feel really good, or really bad. Distinguishing that wasting money on stuff won’t make us feel better for any length of time is a difficult skill to learn. The sooner we do, the better our bank accounts will look. How, when, where and why did you overcome the need for retail therapy?

 

 

 

How Much House Can We Really Afford?

We’re nowhere near looking to sell our current home. As you know our main priority is to kick our (non-mortage) debt to the curb before considering a move, but a move is still within our future. We have no intentions of moving until we can afford the house we really want (within reason) since it will likely be the house we stay in close to, if not, forever.

Out of total fun I started playing around with online mortgage calculators to see what the online ”experts” thought we could afford being hypothetically debt-free. I put in total worse-case numbers (measly 5% down for example even though I know it will be much more on next home, hoping for 20% and current income numbers) and I was blown away at what numbers it spit out at me.

To keep a little privacy within our home I won’t use exact numbers but that doesn’t matter, you’ll get the point. What three different calculators suggested I could afford as a mortgage payment (excluding property taxes which are upwards of $4,800/year in some areas we’re considering) was almost triple our current mortgage amount and five times what our gross annual income was.

Amortized at 25 years (the maximum amortization in Canada) our minimum mortgage payment at this maximum borrowing price would be almost 2.5x our current payment. Holy baby-and-bearded Jesus.

Needless to say we’re not about to work our arses off to pay off debt and go right into being house poor so we’re obviously not going to take on that sort of debt. When our debt is paid off and we do buy a new home there is a 99% chance the mortgage will be larger. The fact is that prices have gone up since we bought four years ago and we’re in a smaller home in an older area of town. That being said though, we’re not looking to increase substantially in size and like the area we’re in.

When it comes to what we are comfortable with I’d like to keep our mortgage and property tax payment to no more than an increase of $400 per month (than we’re currently paying). That may seem like a lot to some but we have to consider we currently live in a cheaper property tax area and most surrounding areas are not so lucky. Of the $400 increase in monthly payments I suspect $150 of that to account for property tax increase. The $400 additional is also accounting for a lower amortization term than we currently have.

I’d like to be totally debt free by the time I’m 50 (total arbitrary number) and given our ages and income prospective I think it will be possible. I also have to consider the possibility of moving into our new home and paying it off very quickly (ten years max) and only then start investing for retirement. It’s a possibility that’s for sure. We have a lot to think about but for now I’ll play pretend on MLS :)

 Do you live in the top of your affordability bracket?

Our DIY Bar and Kegerator

wpid-wp-1411303938689.jpegI’ll never forget the day we moved into our home. We arrived before the real estate agent on closing day to do the final walk through. As we were anxiously awaiting his arrival I was peeking my nose in the widow and noticed something protruding from the wall that I hadn’t seen before. I turned to my husband and pointed to the wall that, during the open house had a large desk against it, and inquired about what was sticking out from the wall in our basement.

While I was formulating a mental plan about how we were going to deal with the removal of these pipes sticking out from the wall my husband had a very different thought process going on. Before I could say anything he turned to me and said nothing but ”wet bar”. Though we weren’t yet in the house to inspect the pipes my husband was fairly confident they were water hookup pipes and we could easily hook them up to a wet bar he now had every intention of building.

Though I was annoyed, he was elated. Like a kid in Christmas morning finding extra candy at the bottom of the stocking. It didn’t take long for our required to-do list (like painting the walls) to take a bit of a back burner to make room for the creative juices to flow about this new project. And so the birth of our bar started.

I didn’t really care what he wanted to do, as long as we didn’t need to spend too much money on it. I also didn’t want something so permanent that future owners wouldn’t be able to easily remove it. With the help of his grandfather my husband created a pretty decent little DIY bar using leftover cabinetry and countertops from our kitchen renovation. Total cost, almost nothing. He did have to buy a few sheets of meranti wood, some extra moulding and few things he didn’t already have for the plumbing but that didn’t set us back any more than $50. After the bar was complete he found a seconds cabinet at a local hardware store for cheap, it was a few years ago now but I want to say he spent another $50 on the cabinet he uses to store all his collective glassware.

So for approximately $100 we were able to build a functioning wet bar complete with running water and storage. Two years after completion we added a mini fridge that we got on after-Christmas clearance for less than $100. Given how often we entertain (we make up excuses to host friends and family) it was a welcome addition but my husband still lusted for a functioning bar tap and kegerator. He had a vision and wasn’t going to stop until the liquid gold poured from his own bar tap.

We’re lucky that my husband’s cousin is an accomplished craft beer maker who is also involved in making home kegerators. He was able to give him a breakdown of everything he’d need to make a fully functional kegerator part-by-part. With the info in hand hubby started to save his pennies. He stashed his extra money and freelance income into his Tangerine account (use my Orange Key if interested in opening an account 40755676S1) until he had enough. Last weekend we tasted the beer from our keg for the first time and I think my husband’s purpose in life is now complete.

The DIY Kegerator cost more than the bar, totaling $500. This includes every single part needed from the fridge to the tap itself and every piece in between. Was it worth it? Well, it was my husband’s money to do what he wanted with but I will say yes anyway.

The Keg holds approximately 50 glasses of beer which cost about $20 to fill. I don’t know anywhere else you can get a glass of beer for $0.40. If we wanted to buy a 2-4 of beer we’re looking at $43 (don’t even get me started on how much alcohol costs here). Four times the amount of our new keg beer. It’s really good craft beer thanks to our hook-up! Hubby isn’t interested in making his own just yet so we’ll continue to fill the kegs when we want it.

Though this is very much a want and not a need we’re going to enjoy having it, especially when we get the other keg set up with my favorite raspberry wheat ale…I forsee more gym visits in my future to burn the beer off :)

Would You Submit a Video Resume?

The other day an interesting article came across my email about the considerations of doing a video resume. I didn’t read past the title before I thought ”why have I never considered this before?”. In 2014 we’re emailing resumes and cover letters in hopes of gaining an interview so why not modernize the whole process a little?

When I was in high school a guy came in and talked about tips for resume and cover letter writing, tips I still apply today. One of the tips he offered to make your resume stand out, if you were so inclined, was to attach a photo of yourself. Since we as humans are very visual learners the interviewer is more likely to remember your resume if they can associate something (ie the picture) with it, gaining you a higher chance of getting the interview.

Your resume gets you an interview.

You get yourself the job.

Once you gain the interview you need to slay it and convince them why you need to get the job.

Video resumes make so much sense in some industries, others not so much. Personally, I am in a field where I could see it being beneficial. It could be edited in such a way where I could include clips of me interacting with patients (fake or real) for the interviewer to see how it is I do my job. I’m in an industry that relies on good patient interaction and rapport building skills. These are skills that though I can put them on paper don’t mean anything until they see it in practice.

Working interviews are popular in my line of work. Where, usually after a formal interview, you are asked to come back for a few hours to a full day (for pay) and work as you would if it was already your job so they can watch you and see how it is you work. Applying the words from your resume into practice so to speak. Though this draws the interview process out a little longer than usual there is, in my opinion, more of an insurance policy with this type of interview as the risk of hiring without seeing how they work is eliminated.

A video resume could, essentially, replace this entire step. Again, using my line of work as the example, if they went right from video interview to formal interview it could save time and money (by not having to pay someone to come in and work for working interview). Interviews are sometimes done via Skype, why not land that interview with a stellar video resume?

What do you think? Would you do a video resume? As someone who may be in a position to do the hiring, would you like video resumes?

The Cost of Dental Care Shouldn’t Keep You Away

wpid-img_20130830_100750.jpgOn Friday past, the Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s national leading newspapers, published a piece about the cost of dental care in Canada and how it is keeping patients away (read it here). There’s no way I was going to read this without addressing it.

First off, we’re spoiled in Nova Scotia with dental care essentially being taken care of (there are restrictions) until the age of 14 (with the intent of increasing coverage until age 16), also being covered if you’re on social assistance. Maybe we as a province are nuts spending our tax payers dollars this way, but in my opinion, if every province followed suit the overall cost of dentistry would dramatically decrease (Ontario, I’m looking at you and the insane rate of childhood caries and cost to fix them).

Prevention is the easiest and cheapest way to keep dental costs down. It starts at home. Brush effectively; floss, more than once every six months- your toothbrush is incapable of getting in between the contact of teeth; drink water and limit acidic drinks (coffee, wine, juice, energy drinks), have a good dental exam and cleaning at a minimum of every 12 months. Some people need more but if it comes down to money, once a year really is better than nothing. If good dental care is initiated early (don’t even try and give me any of the ”my kid hates brushing their teeth” crap), it will sustain their oral health throughout life.

Fact: there are very few congenital enamel deficiencies (ie. you did not ‘inherit’ soft teeth from your dad) which may lead to dental troubles and thus increased costs.

As for the cost involved, having your teeth ”cleaned” (a word I loath) at least once per year, will likely run you anywhere from $125-$225 depending on a few different factors. Paying the $125-$225 per year not only ensures you have a good chance and maintaining a good foundation of oral health, it will allow you to stay on top of any other issues that may arise. Dealing with something when it is small, especially in dentistry, is almost always a cheaper option. If you end up needed a filling or two every few years, dealing with them when they’re first diagnosed (within a 12 month period) it won’t cost you much more than $250 likely.

Fact: assume one cleaning per year and one filling every three years will cost approximately $300 per year or $25 per month, is that a little more doable Canada?

Want to avoid restorative dentistry entirely? I sure want you to. If you do your job, and I do my job, and you listen to me as your dental hygienist, we, as a team, can make it possible (outside of accidents) to never see a dentist. It is possible to never have a filling or other major work done but you still need to have your teeth checked and cleaned at least once per year.

We as an industry are not trying to gouge you. In Nova Scotia for example, a fee guide is issued by our provincial dental board. The prices are not just made up by your dentist. Our equipment and materials are very expensive. There are no Chinese-made instruments. Almost everything you see is made in Canada, USA or Europe, countries where we’re paying people at least a minimum wage to fabricate. Also, we as a team (dentist, their assistant and your hygienist) are all very well educated. I don’t think you’d question paying for a well educated and knowledgeable person vs. not.

If you do need expensive work done look at other options. There are almost always options. Are there dental schools you can go to? Will your dentist do payment plans (a big reason it pays to build and maintain a good relationship with one provider)? Can you hold off of the work with a temporary solution until you come up with the money?

As a person who works in the dental industry I get really frustrated by ignorance and people who are quick to judge without getting the facts straight. So, if you’re one of the six million Canadians who are avoiding dental care, as reported to a ”blue ribbon panel” because of the cost, please don’t let it discourage you. There are solutions, this easiest being to prevent the issue from arising in the first place, a simple solution all too often ignored. A ”cleaning” is so much more than just removing stains and making your teeth feel smooth.

While I’m at it, quit the disgusting energy drinks which are quite literally acid washing your teeth, not to mention killing you and give up the cigarettes (just gross beyond medical and dental issues). Added bonus, you’ll have more money and one less excuse as to why you can’t afford dentistry.

/end rant.

It’s Been a Long Week

I don’t normally do this but I haven’t had time this week to finish any of the blog posts I’ve started! I haven’t been feeling 100% and just didn’t have the energy. I’ll be honest some of my blogging time has been consumed with me reading, a book, which I don’t make enough time for (kids will do that to you!). I’ll be back next week with finished posts, and hope to get some comments up on all your blogs (I’ve been reading just no interactions, sorry) until then have a great weekend! I’ll be stuffing my face with these insane things which are a total and complete waste of money but so weirdy good.wpid-img_20140910_182623.jpg

August 2014 Debt Repayment Update

1958003_10100445146355879_7304944815605772689_nI’m always a little late with these updates but better late than never I guess! Part of the reason I don’t write these posts for the first of the month is because I often don’t make any final extra debt payments for the month until the last day of the month or the first day of the upcoming month. I still consider these funds to be apart of August debt repayment though since the payment is coming from funds earned in August even if I don’t make the payment until September 01.

August was a better month than July. I was able to put a little back in the ER fund as well as a chunk of change onto debt. All this on top of enjoying a little summer fun which included a weekend away as well as a few other little day trips and visiting. Our minimum debt payments is larger then some mortgages so though we were able to put $1,979 towards debt this month, we have to remember that our minimum monthly payment for these debts is $1,451 which means we threw an extra $528 towards debt this month, a number I’m happy with especially considering we had such an expense-filled month.

I still think a lot about the order in which we want to tackle our debts. Given that we we’ve had a few vehicle worries lately (issues that we think are resolved but don’t know for sure), I really want to get the vehicle loan paid off soon even though it’s one of the lowest interest rates of all our debts. I just want the peace of mind or knowing if something big does happen to it we won’t be screwed with not having it paid off. The vehicle is only three years old so we shouldn’t encounter too many issues though (fingers and toes crossed).

How was everyone’s August endeavors, debt repayment or not?

Students, Just Because You’re Given a Discount Doesn’t Mean You Have to Use It!

I had a rare extended lunch break at work earlier this week and seized the opportunity to get some fresh air and go for a walk around my work, which happens to be on one of the busiest streets in the country. There was something clearly obvious, school was back in. In a city of multiple universities and collages on top of the normal elementary and secondary schools, when school is back, it is incredibly obvious.

Aside from the extra 35,000 people descending on the city and increase in foot traffic during my walk, the other obvious sign that students were back in? Student discount offers in every. single. window. Seriously from the electronics store, to the utilities store to the pizza store, all of them were throwing discounts at students and not just suggesting but demanding they use their student discount at their location, as a non student it was overwhelming, I can’t imagine how a student might feel. I can see clearly how it is so easy to spend more money then they need to while pursuing post secondary studies.

Most all of our debt is from my post secondary education, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I spend more than I needed to on offers just like this. The temptation is real and I’m here to tell every student out there, just because you have a student discount, doesn’t mean you have to use it!

Student discounts aren’t always a burden, some of the offers have the potential to save students thousands of dollars throughout their studies. If you use any service at all, from insurance and banking to eating pizza, always ask if they offer a student discount! Just because they don’t publicize one doesn’t mean they don’t offer. At my work, a dental office, though we don’t have a true student discount we would never turn a student away for lack of money and would always offer a discounted price if they asked. It doesn’t hurt to ask, in fact I suggest you call all the services you normally use and capitalize on it.

Where student discounts get detrimental is when you start using it on products or services you don’t need or use. Especially if it encourages you to sign up to a long-term service such as cable. I never had time for TV while I was in school and if I did I’d almost always watch the online version the day after, in between study sessions. You don’t need that student discounted price of $95/month, it is not saving you anything, in fact you’ll end up wasting over $3,000 in the course of a four year degree (with an eight month school year) if you do get that deal that is ”too good to pass up”.

Being a student was one of the best times of my life. I loved the lifestyle, the social life and the fact that, at the time, I could live like the rest of the world didn’t exist simply because I was enthralled with my studies. Life and post secondary finances will get back to you. Use your money wisely, don’t be afraid to not spend your money when friends are and be aware that just because someone else is telling you it is a good deal, doesn’t mean it is.

Would You Rather Spend All Your Money While Alive or Leave It For After You Die?

wpid-img_20140804_194830.jpgGrowing up a friend of mine found out his grandfather was terminally ill at a fairly young age. He was in pretty good health (otherwise) but knew he’d be dead likely within the year. The grandfather sat the family down and explained the situation with the family. He wanted to take the stigma out of talking about death and money and wanted to make sure he appropriated his money the way he wanted to spend it. He didn’t want to leave a bunch of cash for the family to deal with after the fact.

He took the entire immediate family (eight total including him) on a vacation for two weeks in Europe, a trip most of the family members would never have been able to afford. He explained that he wanted to see his family enjoy a trip of a lifetime while he was living rather than him looking down and feeling like he missed out.

I have to be honest, given that we’re on hardcore debt repayment mode, we’re not quite yet thinking about retirement let alone estate planning. I do know however that I have zero intention of building a retirement fund that includes any ”leftovers” for my children though. I’m in the school of thought that would rather help them (or others) while alive. I want to be the one seeing the enjoyment while alive rather than after I’m gone.

Some people, for example, may choose to give their children money for a downpayment on their first home (I have varying thoughts about this) but this may be a way for someone to spend their money before death. If this is what the parents want to do (rather than leaving a decent chunk of change after death) then who are we to judge?

A little different but we already have intentions of paying for most, if not all our daughters post secondary education. This is a massive ticket item in my mind. Money we’re giving to her to she can start her adult life out on the right foot (ideally debt free) and money that we are not investing in ourselves. The fact is that if we didn’t have a child, or we chose not investing in her post secondary education, it would be more money in our pocket/retirement accounts but I would rather spend this money on her than have that much more in retirement at the end of the day.

Everyone is different, my grandparents passed away with a very large estate, even if they hadn’t died at a young age they still would have had a significant amount of money. This just won’t be me. You better believe if I find myself to be a 85-year-old woman, and still have a bunch of money left to my name, God willing you’ll find me flying around the world looking to eat the rest of my money at the best restaurants around, enjoying every last penny, after all I earned it and I want to enjoy it.

Are you planning on spending it all or saving some for future generations (or donate to charity/give it all away/anything)?

Our Mini Family Vacation

This summer we had no true plans and truthfully I was looking forward to spending it just relaxing and taking it one day at a time. Only one wedding at the end of the summer to worry about so for the most part, doing what we want! Somehow every free second we had was consumed and I felt like we were more busy this summer then we have in the past few years that had involved some pretty extensive travel.

One plan we did make was to travel to our neighboring province for a weekend away with our family (my tripod plus the in-laws+ sister-in-law and beau). Destination? Airshow! My father-in-law is retired military and though my husband has no direct military connections, loves anything that flies. Our daughter is also pretty obsessed with airplanes so it was a great opportunity to get away.

Even though we were only three hours from home it felt like so much more. I personally haven’t been to this city since I was quite young and it was much nicer than I remember. We booked our hotel room on a discount site and shared the room with my sister-in-law saving big bucks. It was a newly renovated room with a view of the river behind out hotel, we chose this particular hotel because it included parking and a hot breakfast. Most other hotels had a $10+ charge per day to park and nothing for breakfast included which meant we would have needed to spend more money on food.

The only plan we had was to attend the actual airshow, everything else was up in the air and we sort of did what we wanted. We explored a bit and on the way home stopped at an old fort from the 1700’s, one of those places I’ve driven past a millions times in my life but never stopped in. I loved everything about our weekend. Kiddo’s schedule was totally off but she was a trooper and we all had an amazing time.

 

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When was the last time you got away??